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Following Wednesday’s bargaining session, healthcare workers at Deaconess Hospital in Spokane and Valley Hospital in Spokane Valley issued a 10-day Unfair Labor Practice strike notice to MultiCare executives

Spokane, Wash. – More than 1,400 nurses, techs, and service workers at MultiCare Deaconess and Valley Hospitals will strike for seven days starting April 7 to denounce MultiCare executives’ bad faith bargaining over solutions to end the short staffing crisis in their Spokane and Spokane Valley hospitals.

Frontline healthcare workers have been sounding the alarm about MultiCare’s failure to bring forth proposals that will address recruitment and retention, as well as the Tacoma-based healthcare organization’s disregard for workers’ rights under the NLRA through retaliation against workers for union activity, and refusal to provide information requested to support the bargaining process.

At stake at the bargaining table is the hospitals’ ability to recruit and retain without competitive wages and premiums that align with the Spokane market, among other issues. MultiCare has proposed changes to the workers’ healthcare benefits that would increase out-of-pocket costs, reductions to PTO and sick leave, and has so far refused to implement protections around overtime, rest between shifts and call-back language.

“We’ve repeatedly raised our concerns with MultiCare executives about recruitment and retention, but they are bargaining in bad faith, refusing to listen to us, and proposing to take away some of our hard-earned contract standards,” said Callie Allen, a labor and delivery nurse at Valley Hospital. “We are fighting for respect for ourselves, our patients, and to uphold the federal labor laws which our employer continues to violate when they tell us we can’t communicate about union issues at work. We feel we have no choice but to take urgent action by withholding our labor to make our voices heard.”

Healthcare workers issued a 10-day unfair labor practice strike notice to MultiCare executives on Wednesday. The bargaining process began Aug. 30, 2023, and the parties have held 19 bargaining sessions since. The workers authorized their union bargaining team to call a strike with a membership vote that concluded March 16; the workers overwhelmingly voted to support the proposed action, with 93% voting yes.

“MultiCare executives must confront the stark reality of patient care decline due to severe understaffing, and how this impacts the communities living in Spokane and Spokane Valley,” said Jane Hopkins, RN, president of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW. “A genuine investment in the workforce — not corporate pay and expansion — is a crucial step towards resolving this crisis and making good on MultiCare’s promise that ‘your communities are our communities.’ It is unacceptable that MultiCare’s commitment to quality patient care seems to apply only to its facilities in Western Washington. MultiCare must fix what is currently broken here before venturing into new communities. It’s time for a good contract that respects the workers’ experience and honors their sacrifices.”

MultiCare is licensed to operate 2,557 inpatient hospital beds across Washington state. It ended 2023 with $4.9 billion in operating revenue and a profit of $411 million1. MultiCare currently has $1.4 billion dollars of cash and cash equivalents2. Per the last year of available data, MultiCare spent $11.3 million on salaries for its top-seven executives. MultiCare continues to expand across Washington state, having recently purchased 30 acres of vacant land just north of Spokane for $15.7 million, acquiring new in-patient facilities such as Yakima Memorial Hospital and adding dozens of new clinic locations, urgent cares, and free-standing emergency departments to its portfolio. This all reflects a pattern of reckless expansion while workers in existing MultiCare facilities in Eastern Washington face critical staffing issues, a lack of competitive wages, and daily impossible choices that risk compromising patient care.

“We don’t want to strike but we will if we have to,” said Shawn Crawford, a Certified Nursing Assistant at Deaconess Hospital. “Despite our repeated appeals at the bargaining table and taking action in our departments and units, MultiCare executives have neglected to engage in good faith bargaining or listen to the insights of frontline staff. We’re calling on MultiCare to value the sacrifice of workers who have been on the frontlines of care throughout the pandemic. MultiCare executives in Tacoma say they care about our communities, but our hospitals on the East side of the state are struggling to provide quality care with the resources we have. Show us that you care. Our patients deserve better.”

About SEIU Healthcare 1199NW
SEIU Healthcare 1199NW is a union of nurses and healthcare workers with over 33,000 caregivers throughout hospitals, clinics, mental health, skilled home health and hospice programs in Washington state and Montana. SEIU Healthcare 1199NW’s mission is to advocate for quality care and good jobs for all.

1 https://emma.msrb.org/P11736462-P11334861-P11769439.pdf

2 https://emma.msrb.org/P11736462-P11334861-P11769439.pdf

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